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Standardisation, good or bad?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by GeoffR, May 28, 2021.

  1. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    The ¼" thread used to mount cameras to tripods seems to have lasted well. However even that has subtley changed over the years. It used to be Whitworth but is now UNC. The thread angles and end shape are different but old and new normally fit well enough when mismatched..
     
  2. AndyTake2

    AndyTake2 Well-Known Member

    That's a bit of a pain - there are certainly plenty of flavours of USB C, the one saving grace (if it isn't a curse) is that they should all fit one socket, and more importantly aren't polarised!
    I don't know how many USB C cables I have, but I do tend to make sure any I buy are either specific or the latest spec. I have just ordered a couple of short ones which are OTG compatible, as I want to use my phone to cast to the TV whilst using a plugged in keyboard. I will hopefully be able to dig out a bluetooth mouse, or buy a suitable trackpad. This is just so I can watch engineering and CAD instructional videos on YouTube more than anything, as 'typing' with a remote control on a smart TV is a PITA.
     
  3. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Sure the cables all fit the same socket and they aren't polarised but imagine plugging a 3A cable between your 97W charger and your fast charging computer requiring 5A, that cable is going to get pretty warm rather quickly. Now, you are at 35,000' wanting to work, the only cable you have is charge only and you need your external drive, happy? The specification is too broad and USB C is being used to do too many jobs. Relieve it of having to support laptop charging and set the maximum current at 3A and most of the problems go away. Except that you soon realise that a USB A charger does almost the same job but is limited to 500mA. Did we really need a new standard or would rewriting the old one have been sufficient?
     
  4. retrofit

    retrofit Well-Known Member

    I wish they would, because I’ve got about 100 random cables jotted around the place :D
     
  5. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    Imagine the implications of that - no more internet reckons on any subject. Social media would die...
     
  6. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    There is a second question, does standardisation stifle innovation?

    I can think of a couple of instances where a standardised interface has caused problems:
    Domestic electrical connectors in general but he 3.5mm headphone socket in particular as used on computers, phones etc. It looks ideal but is too fragile and difficult, if not impossible, to repair. Additionally, when one uses professional audio equipment, with 1/4" sockets, an adaptor is required and readily misplaced. The HDMI connector is great if you rarely disturb it but it isn't ideally suited to more portable equipment, the plug comes out too easily.
     
  7. Footloose

    Footloose Well-Known Member

    As anyone who bought into Phillips HiFi system* in the mid-70s will have discovered, whilst Phillips used DIN plugs, their 5-pin plug was wired up differently to the 'standard' specification. This was presumably so that you could be 'locked' into just buying their products, but such a method backfires because many people did not stick to one brand name.
    * Phillips at this time had an agreement with Thorens through whom they repackaged their highly-regarded record deck - This range employed rather innovative blue illuminated touch buttons, but I'm guessing the buttons packed up on these because the design wasn't marketed for very long and I can't seem to find any photos of the range ...
     
  8. SqueamishOssifrage

    SqueamishOssifrage Well-Known Member

    You quote an excellent example of standardization messing things up. The 3.5mm plug/socket certainly needed an amount of manual dexterity to solder up, but when headphones with microphones became popular with gamers etc. it really screwed the pooch because, in order to maintain backward compatibility, they kept centre = left channel, ring one = right channel, ring two = ground/shield, and a new ring three was added for the mic.

    When the shield is not the outermost connection on the plug and socket, rewiring them is a nightmare that will stretch your vocabulary to its limits and beyond.
     
  9. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Well-Known Member

    There are more standards for screw threads than there are for USB (and I don't just mean the different diameters)
    In the last year alone I've used:
    UNC, UNF, BSPT, BSPP, NPT, BA, ISO coarse, in addition to the various photographic/optics threads RMS, LTM, metric which are typically much finer than the 'extra fine' metric thread and still often used at multiple pitches... (can I ignore the trapezoid & square pattern threads for glass & power transmission? I've probably used some of them too)
    I don't remember using BSF, BSC, BSW, ISO fine, UNEF recently.

    Many of these standards differ for valid reasons, but for each use case there seem to be multiple incompatible standards. America can't even use standard distance measurements despite signing up to the metric standard (back in the 1970s IIRC) and now defining its base units using metric - One inch is now defined as exactly 25.4mm.
     
  10. P_Stoddart

    P_Stoddart Well-Known Member

    Short answer yes.

    Because we now live in a very interconnected world.

    It great I can re-use my USB chargers on loads of things there not waste them in re-cycling.

    I think the USB standard is one of the greatest steps forward in modern connection technology.
     
  11. AGW

    AGW Well-Known Member

    Sounds like an episode of "Line of Duty"

    Graeme
     
  12. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Which USB standard? There are USB A chargers and USB C chargers.
     
  13. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Not too mention machine screw/bolt head designs, Philips, Reed&Prince, pozidrive, triwing, torx, external torx, torx plus, bihex (used extensively by Rolls Royce and I don’t mean the cars), Allen, pentalobe etc. All available with different threads, and people wonder why they are so often referred to a parts catalogue!

    You forgot the Acme thread by the way, used in jack screws.
     
  14. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    The DIN speaker plug must rank as one of the worse connectors of all time, closely followed by the rest of the range.
     
  15. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    As the ancients tell us: variety is the spice of life. In any case, I have met people who just love perusing parts catalogues! :p
     
  16. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    The four terminal 3.5mm connectors don’t interface properly with some three terminal sockets. I regularly have to tell people that they can’t use their phone headset with our in-ear monitoring receivers because the connections don’t align properly. You can use a three terminal plug in a four terminal socket without problems but not the reverse.

    A few months back I bought a cheap shotgun mic. It was equipped with an XLR connector so it should have been wired pin 1 ground, pin 2 signal, pin 3 return but it wasn’t. Pin 2 was signal but pins 1 and 3 were shorted internally meaning I couldn’t use phantom power, and on a mixer with universal phantom power that was a problem. Some copper foil tape and a soldering iron fixed the problem and allowed the mic to run on phantom power, as well as voiding the guarantee. A case of “it has a standard connector so it will work” being the wrong assumption. The mic had been modified by the designer to work with cameras, and computers, where the pin outs are different apparently.

    Are these examples of standardisation stifling innovation, blatant abuse of a standard or a case of two different standards in different industries that were never expected to meet?
     
  17. AndyTake2

    AndyTake2 Well-Known Member

    Just to resurrect this post regarding USB
    There are now a couple of new flavours.
    USB 3.2 2x2 which has up to 20Gbps and is so new that just about nothing supports it, and is about to be obsolete anyway, as there is also...
    USB4, which has up to 40Gbps, and is only supported on the latest processors but will hopefully put the Thunderbolt/USB fight to bed, as Intel has provided the USB bods access to Thunderbolt, which will underpin USB from now on.
    Equipment makers can create stuff that supports the Thunderbolt tech without paying royalties, so there shouldn't be any need for grumping about what to do and what not to do.

    Hope that is all clear.

    Now go take an aspirin.:D

    ...unless, like me, you are alergic to aspirin, in which case a large single malt is acceptable:p
     
  18. dangie

    dangie Senior Knobhead

    I’ve got old Scart cables which are so thick they wouldn’t be out of place powering the National Grid.
    Literally impossible to use them as trying to route them between components often resulted in undue strain on the component sockets.
     
  19. AndyTake2

    AndyTake2 Well-Known Member

    I've often thought that it would have been better to build the components onto the Scart socket and cable as they take up as much room as the device itself:D

    I know the type you mean. One does the right thing and buys a high quality cable through the post, only to have the National Grid engineers turn up saying 'ere guv, where do you want this? we'll just get the forklift and get it orf the low loader for you':D
     
  20. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    What about non-ribbon parallel printer cables?

    Back in 1982, I was installing a system for a distribution company and we were at the point of setting up the terminals in the warehouse. The printer was attached to a secondary processor by several metres of 30 core cable. My engineering colleague had set the printer up for testing on a wheeled work table and gone over to the command terminal to start running some printouts.

    What happened next depends on whose claims you believe. The generally accepted story was that someone moved the printer in front of the goods entrance because it was blocking the loading area, presumably not considering what might happen if a diesel fork lift were to enter with the driver's view obscured by a pallet full of stock.

    Well one did and proved that...
    1. the breaking strength of 30 core cable is greater than the force exerted by a fork lift
    2. the locking clips on a Centronics 25 way socket are extremely strong
    3. the casing and chasis of a Centronics printer are not all that strong.
    4. processor boxes are really strong, up to the point where they're yanked off the shelf
    5. insurance assessors have seen so many weird things that nothing fazes them.
    The total claim came to £9,000 (about £32,500 in today's money) which was paid without a quibble. :confused:
     
    John Farrell and Learning like this.

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